Chinese vase sold for just £1 in a charity shop is revealed to be a rare £80,000 treasure that was made for 18th century Emperor Qianlong
- Little vase belonged to the Qianlong Emperor who reigned from 1735 to 1796
- Despite its imperial provenance it made its way to a charity shop in Hertfordshire
- The buyer listed it on eBay for a pittance and was soon flooded with offers
- Realising it must be valuable he took it to an auctioneer who told him its worth
A vase which sold for just £1 at a charity shop is now listed at £80,000 after it was revealed it was made for an 18th century Chinese emperor.
The Qianlong Emperor’s vase made its way to a store in Hertfordshire where it was picked up for £1 and then listed on eBay for a pittance.
But the unnamed buyer soon realised it must be worth more than he was asking when he was inundated with offers for the tiny yellow vase.
He took it to Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers’ in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, who told him the eight inch vase was made for the emperor who reigned from 1735 to 1796.
The Qianlong Emperor (left) was the sixth Emperor of the Qing dynasty who reigned from 1735 to 1796, the family rose is marked upon the vase (right) meaning it wasn’t for export, but for one of the emperor’s palaces
Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers’ expert Yexue Li holds the little vase. It will go on sale on November 8
The Qianlong family rose is marked upon the vase meaning it wasn’t for export, but for one of the emperor’s palaces.
It is inscribed with an imperial poem that ‘praises incense’ and two iron-red seal marks that read ‘Qianlong chen han’ or ‘the Qianlong Emperor’s own mark’.
It also reads ‘Weijing weiyi’ which translates to ‘be precise, be undivided’.
The pear-shaped vase is designed to be attached to a wall, with a flat back and floral decoration on the front.
Its yellow colour is significant as this was a special colour reserved for the emperor.
It was discovered 300 years after being made for sale for £1 in a charity shop in Hertfordshire by the unnamed buyer.
Yexue Li, head of the Asian art department at Sworders, said: ‘The gentleman vendor was in the charity shop and picked out the vase because he liked the look of it.
‘He was unaware of his significance so he put it on eBay with a very low starting price to begin with and there was a lot of interest.
The pear-shaped vase is designed to be attached to a wall, with a flat back and floral decoration on the front
Its yellow colour is significant as this was a special colour reserved for the emperor
‘He decided to take the vase off eBay and bought it in to us to take a look. He was shocked and very excited when we explained its importance.
‘The vase is special because it comes with the inscription by the Qianlong Emperor, and he must have commissioned this vase.
‘The enamel on the vase is special because it uses yangcai (foreign) enamels on a yellow ground – a special colour traditionally reserved for the emperor.
‘It’s a high quality vase because it was court commissioned, so it would have been of a high value when it was made.
The enamel on the vase is special because it uses yangcai (foreign) enamels on a yellow ground – a special colour traditionally reserved for the emperor
The stunning vase was expensive even when it was made for the Emperor so the £1 pick up in the charity shop was an exceptional bargain
‘It is very exciting, and we’ve had a lot of interest already.’
The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Qing dynasty. He abdicated in favour of his son, the Jiaqing Emperor, and died three years later aged 87 in 1799.
The sale takes place on November 8.